Letter From the President - June
The month of May is a favorite of mine. Summer is in full swing and racing is at the forefront of the sports marketplace. While the Triple Crown dominates the public's focus, the last major two-year-old sale takes place in Maryland. Some people accuse me of being a compulsive horse buyer. They say that I have an involuntary reflex in my right arm, and they might be right. We bought the sales topper at the sale, a beautiful Broken Vow colt. He was one of the best horses I have ever seen at this sale, and I needed to have him. Less than a week after we bought the colt he sold out. I was overwhelmed by the tremendous response.
Last May we ran Flashy Bull in the Kentucky Derby, and this year our success continues. It started on Derby day when Dream Rush tied the stakes record with her victory in the Grade 2 Nassau County Breeders' Cup Stakes at Belmont Park. I was in Kentucky with many of her partners that day, but I think we all could be heard cheering 770 miles away.
Dream Rush's victory was so impressive that Hill N' Dale farm, one of the leading breeding outfits in the country, purchased one third interest in her. Opportunities like this don't come along every day, and we are delighted to partner with such an outstanding farm.
Preakness day was perhaps even more exciting than Derby day as Flashy Bull scored a scintillating victory in the William Donald Schaefer Handicap(G3). We've had great success in the Schaefer as Seattle Fitz won the race in 2004. Flashy Bull faced even-money favorite, Hesanoldsalt who came within two-lengths of defeating Horse of the Year Invasor over the winter. The two engaged in a stretch thrilling duel where the pair was never separated by more than a foot. Flashy Bull showed unbelievable determination to score a head victory. He has truly developed into a great handicap horse and can now command the respect that I've always believed he deserves. We now have one of the top horses on the east coast with Flashy Bull and one of the top horses on the west coast with Awesome Gem.
Flashy Bull's victory was significant in several ways. The win was our fourth graded stakes victory of the year, and those wins have been by three different horses. To have this kind of depth is a testament to the entire team's hard work. The win also pushed the stable's earnings to over $1,000,000 for the year. With seven months remaining in 2007, we are on pace to break all of the statistical records that we set last year.
While our stable is running white hot, the racing industry will have another year without a Triple Crown winner. As much as I believe that Curlin is a special colt, I wanted Street Sense to win and build a real buzz around the Belmont. While racing could certainly use a Triple Crown winner, I do believe that the current structure of the Triple Crown prevents the unworthy from winning the crown. I read an article by Kenny Mayne that talked about how people were upset that Street Sense lost. I agree with him when he says that racing is not solely about having a Triple Crown winner - it is about competition.
The beauty of our sport is that these horses compete on a level playing field, and if a horse is good enough on those three particular days he will win. If not, then he has not earned a spot in the pantheon of greats, period. You do not have to win a Triple Crown to be a special horse. Curlin and Street Sense both might go on to have incredible careers, and they are both immensely talented horses. However, I believe that the holy grail of our sport will still go to the most deserving of horses - if and when that time comes.
There has been more and more discussion over whether or not changes should be made to the Triple Crown races. While it is an interesting debate, I don't think it addresses the larger issue we face. Why do we feel we need to make changes? Have the races changed? No, but the horses have. Today's thoroughbreds are not as hearty as the horses from decades past. We no longer breed for soundness and stamina. We breed for speed at the expense of soundness. Today's horses are not as readily equipped for the rigors of the Triple Crown. I do not think we should change the history of the sport until we address these larger issues.
Even though we will not have a horse looking to make history at the Belmont this year, I am looking forward to an exciting day and an outstanding summer of racing.
Until next month...